Massachusetts Academy of Ballet | Connecting Point | Jan. 22, 2019


>>>WHEN CHARLES AND ROSE FLACHS
WERE TRANSITIONING OUT OF A SUCCESSFUL CAREER AS
PROFESSIONAL BALLET DANCERS, THEY LOOKED TO RELOCATE IN
WESTERN NEW ENGLAND. THEY FOUND A MILL BUILDING IN
HOLYOKE THAT WAS LEASING SPACE AND OPENED THE MASSACHUSETTS
ACADEMY OF BALLET. THIS SATURDAY, THEY WILL MARK 15
YEARS OF TEACHING WITH A GALA AT OPEN SQUARE IN HOLYOKE. PRODUCER DAVE FRASER SHARES THIS
STORY.>>WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE MILL
COMPLEX THAT IS OPEN SQUARE IN HOLYOKE, YOU MAY NOT THINK IT
WOULD BE SUITABLE FOR A BALLET STUDIO. BUT FOR ROSE AND CHARLES FLACHS,
IT SEEMED LIKE A GREAT LOCATION WHEN THEY WERE LOOKING TO START
A SCHOOL OF THEIR OWN.>>JUST STEPPING INTO THE SPACE,
IT FEELS ARTISTIC. SOMETIMES ARTISTS ARE THE ONES
WHO HELP REVITALIZE DIFFERENT AREAS IN CITIES. WE FELT THIS IS SOMETHING WE
COULD CONTRIBUTE TO BY OPENING A STUDIO HERE. I STARTED ABOUT 11 YEARS OLD. I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL A
YEAR EARLY IN ROCHESTER, NEW YORK. AND MOVED TO NEW YORK CITY TO
STUDY WITH A VERY SERIOUS SCHOOL. I HAD MY FIRST JOB AT THE AGE OF
17. A TOUR AROUND THE UNITED STATES
SPONSORED BY COLUMBIA ARTISTS. MY PARENTS HAD TO SIGN MY
CONTRACT. ONCE I DID THAT, I WAS LIKE,
THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO.>>THE OBJECTIVE ON STAGE IS TO
MAKE THINGS LOOK EASY. THAT IS A SKILL UNTO ITSELF. ANY TIME YOU ARE DOING AN
ATHLETIC ENDEAVOR THAT IS CODIFIED AND CERTAIN
EXPECTATIONS AND REQUIRES YOU TO JUMP, TURN AND MOVE WITH
APPARENT EASE, YOU CAN EQUATE IT TO ANY SPORT. SO THERE IS THAT PORTION OF
BALLET, WHICH I THINK I WAS INITIALLY ATTRACTED TO. THE ARTISTIC END OF IT, THOUGH,
QUICK I WILL CATCHES UP WITH YOU.
AND BALLET IS REALLY A COMBINATION OF THE TWO.>>AFTER A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN
DANCE, BOTH CHARLES AND ROSE WERE LOOKING TO TRANSITION IN
THEIR LIFE.>>TO TRANSITION AND START A
FAMILY, WE TRIED TO LOOK FOR A MORE SECURE JOB AND THAT WAS
APPLYING TO COLLEGES TO TEACH. SO WE WERE HIRED BY MOUNT
HOLYOKE COLLEGE IN A SHARED POSITION. SO WE SHARE ONE PROFESSORSHIP.>>ALONG WITH TEACHING AT MOUNT
HOLYOKE, THE COUPLE STARTED THE MASSACHUSETTS ACADEMY OF BALLET
IN 2008. THIS NON-PROFIT INITIATIVE
PROVIDES AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ART OF BALLET TO THOSE AS YOUNG
AS 3 TO ADULTS.>>THE TRAINING OF BALLET IS
REALLY BASED ON LOGIC, ANATOMY, BUILDING BLOCKS. YOU ACCOMPLISH ONE SKILL AND
THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING MORE DIFFICULT TO DO. ON TOP OF THAT, THERE’S THE
LAYER OF ARTISTRY AND MUSICALITY. IT IS A BEAUTIFULLY LAYERED
APPROACH TO THE ART FORM.>>TEACHING IS REALLY DIFFERENT. YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO STEP
BACK, TAKE YOUR EGO OUT OF IT AND TRY TO WORK WITH THE STUDENT
AS BEST YOU CAN, KNOWING IT’S NOT NECESSARILY WHAT YOU WOULD
DO. THEY ARE A DIFFERENT PERSON. THEY HAVE A DIFFERENT BODY. HOW CAN YOU GET THE MOST OUT OF
THEM.>>SOMETIMES I FEEL PEOPLE HAVE
A PRECONCEIVED IDEA OF WHAT BALLET IS, THAT IT IS THIS EASY,
WONDERFUL, FLOWING THING AND IT IS REALLY A HUGELY ATHLETIC FORM
FOR, YOU KNOW, MALE AND FEMALE DANCERS. AND SO IT IS BASED ON BUILDING
THAT STRENGTH AND THAT STARTS FROM THE MOMENT SOMEONE STEPS
THROUGH THE DOOR.>>WITH 15 YEARS OF STUDENTS
PASSING THROUGH ITS DOORS, THE ACADEMY HAS SENT A HANDFUL OF
DANCERS ON TO BECOME PROFESSIONALS. AND CHARLES AND ROSE RECOGNIZE
THOSE DANCERS IN A UNIQUE WAY.>>ONCE THEY GET A PAYCHECK FOR
DANCING THEY BECOME PROFESSIONAL AND SIGN OUR WALL. IT IS A GREAT TRADITION.>>SO AS THE BALLET ACADEMY
PREPARES TO CELEBRATE 15 YEARS IN THE COMMUNITY, CHARLES AND
ROSE ARE REFLECTING BACK ON THE IMPACT BALLET HAS HAD ON THEIR
LIVES AND THE IMPACT THEY ARE HAVING ON THE LIVES OF OTHERS
THROUGH DANCE.>>I THINK IT WAS THAT WE WANTED
TO SEE IF WE COULD TRAIN DANCERS FROM A YOUNG AGE ALL THE WAY TO
THE PROFESSIONAL CAREER. AND WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THAT,
BUT AS I MENTIONED BEFORE, THAT IS NOT OUR ONLY REASON FOR
TEACHING. I THINK THE COMMUNITY THAT’S
CREATED IN OUR STUDIO IS ALSO VERY IMPORTANT AND HOPEFULLY
THAT IS THE THING THAT COMES OUT THE MOST FROM OUR WORK WITH THE
STUDIO SINCE WEA’VE OPENED.>>BECAUSE I WAS A DANCER
PROFESSIONALLY AND MOVED INTO TEACHING, THERE IS A PASSION AND
A NEED TO DO IT, WHEREAS — SO IT IS NOT NECESSARILY WHAT IT
BRINGS TO ME, BUT I’M HAPPIEST DOING IT.

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